Boom! That’s the sound that should have been made as I badged through the security gate this particular Friday morning. If you didn’t know any better you would have thought I owned the entire Coca-Cola brand. This is not a strange feeling for me though. I’m always trying to make sure my ego is on the lower of its three settings. There’s confident, cocky, and only person on the planet; and this Friday morning, I did not mentally calibrate to function with not even one of the other 7 billion individuals surrounding me. I was walking on air, with the wind to my back, and “Eye of the Tiger” was playing in the background everywhere I went.
Even though feeling like the only person on the planet is a fantastic feeling, it removes the part of reasoning that tells you to take precautions. Since your five senses have shut off everything and everyone around you, does not mean that everything and everyone around you has ceased to exist. This ego trip is usually ended with a very very rude awakening. Rarely do you make it to the end of the day in the same mood. Friday, mine last about 45 minutes.
I start every day over a cup of coffee. I substitute breakfast for that cup of coffee. It’s all I need. Once I got to the coffee bar, they had my favorite blend – Jamaican Me Crazy.
“I’ll have your daily special blend… Large.”
“No dark roast today?” asked my barista. I was a daily regular and would love to think that I’m also her favorite.
“No ma’am,” I responded… And that’s when the boiled eggs behind the glass counter caught my attention. “But I will have the boiled eggs.” The eggs came in twos in little clear plastic cups and lids. Nothing would be denied me today. I saw eggs, so I bought them; didn’t even want them.
“All set,” Ms. Ann said as she passed me my order. I paid, thanked her as always and headed to my desk.
By the time I had reached my seat, half of the brewed goodness had met its end. So without delay, I made quick work of the first egg. I don’t know if I hadn’t had one in a while, or if it was really that good. So I downed the second on to compare it to the first. It was mediocre. The rest of the coffee capped my mini breakfast. Off to work I went.
Not even an hour later, I heard a weird noise that instantly disrupted my workflow. I looked around to see if I could find anything to account for the sound. I did not, so I continued my tasks.
Then again; the sound. This time it was accompanied by a vibration in my stomach. I knew at that moment that I was in trouble. Sweat started to form above my brow and “Eye of the Tiger” had stopped playing in the middle of the second verse. I was instantly aware of everyone around me as I tried to map the quickest escape route to the most private restroom.
“You’ve done it now, genius,” I thought. “Coffee and eggs… You’re not used to that. You should have known better!”
I coolly slipped from my cubicle towards the stairwell. I flew down the steps and resumed coolness as strolled across the campus to the service elevators. I couldn’t chance being on an elevator with someone and holding this kind of pressure. I pressed the button over and over in an attempt to rush its arrival. It had been about a minute and the elevator was still twelve floors from the ground, and seemed to be stopping on every floor.
The risk had to be taken. I stiffly walked around to the regular passenger elevators. The strolling was done. Being cool was over. Humility had set in, and my ego had left me high and dry. All I needed now was a private restroom, and would be ever so grateful to get to one.
Good. No one was waiting. I pressed up and jumped on at the sound of the ding. “Nineteen please,” I said to myself. In a few seconds, I would be just fine. However, I hadn’t calculated that some pretty intern would get on at the fourth floor excited about her job and looking forward to meeting new people.
As the elevator slowed to a stop, I grew angry and nervous at the same time. The young lady stepped inside, glowing of ambition. She smiled and said, “Hello.” I could only nod back in response. It took forever for the doors to close again. There was a little wisp of wind fighting to escape from me, but I would not let this happen to me – or this poor innocent girl. I squeezed a little harder as the sweat beaded across my forehead. The numbers on the wall indicating our position only marked us at floor nine. I looked at the number pad of floor choices simply to realize she hadn’t pressed anything. My stomach turned as I realized I might not be able to keep my body in submission for the rest of the trip. If I were to press another button and scurry off, I might offend her in some way… Not to mention any sudden movements from me might offend her in another way. I decided to take my chances and stand completely still.
“Are you okay?” I guess she had taken notice of my sweating, stiffness, silence and overall awkwardness. The question caught me off guard and startled me. I turned and gave her a blank stare as I released an unfortunate tragedy on both of us. It was a quiet, long release. Worry filled her eyes as she tried to comprehend my state of being. I could only stare and shake my head as what I hoped she could interpret as an apology for what was about to happen to her. An unsettling odor crept from beneath us and ploddingly wrapped itself around our throats. The young lady, now recognizing the situation, slowly started to shake her head as to deny the apologies of my own shaking head. Eyes locked, we both tried to cope; she with betrayal and I with deathly embarrassment. She let out a whimper of a cough as the almost visible smell clouded the space between us. I said, “I’m so sorry.” She didn’t respond. I’m pretty sure it was to avoid breathing any more of the poison.
It took what seemed to be five whole minutes before the doors opened to the nineteenth floor. She rushed off before me and went left. Thankfully, I had to travel to the right to my rarely inhabited restroom. I stayed there for nearly an hour to for fear of seeing her when I exited. When I did come out though, I rushed towards the service elevators to take the less-traveled route back to my side of the campus.
Fortunately for me though, I never saw that young lady again… Up until about thirty seconds ago…